Charles Frederick Heller, 49, is accused of fatally shooting 21-year-old Dustyn Hunt-Bagby inside his Everett, Washington home in February 2019
Heller has been charged with second-degree murder nearly two years on – He had not been arrested or charged until now because he claimed it was self defense
The victim’s mother, Lisa Ledbetter Hunt, said that she believes the shooting was ‘racially motivated’ calling the claim ‘the only explanation’
Dustyn Hunt-Bagby, an aspiring musician who went by the name PrettyBoi Nabii, had been dating Lauryn Heller for a few weeks prior to his death
The night he died, the pair were watching a movie together in her room and drinking wine
After Charles Heller found Hunt-Bagby hiding in his daughter’s room, he aimed a handgun at Hunt, ordering him to get dressed and leave
Hunt-Bagby, followed the order and apologized to the father as he yelled profanities
Noticing the gun was pointed in the direction of girlfriend, Hunt-Bagby, reportedly pushed the gun out of the way, causing Heller to fall down
A struggle ensued and Heller aimed his gun at Hunt-Bagby’s shoulder and fired, striking him fatally in the chest
Lauryn Heller has previously suggested she believes race may have played a factor in the shooting, and explains why her father wasn’t charged for so long
A father has been charged with murder, nearly two years after shooting dead his daughter’s boyfriend when he found him hiding in her bedroom after curfew – as the victim’s mother claims the fatal incident was racially motivated.
Charles Frederick Heller III was charged with second-degree murder Monday in Snohomish County Superior Court. Heller, 49, is accused of fatally shooting 21-year-old Dustyn Hunt-Bagby inside his Everett, Washington, home in February 2019, after becoming angry that his daughter Lauryn Heller, then 20, had tried to sneak Hunt into her room for the night.
Lauryn Heller and Dustyn Hunt-Bagby knew each other for about a year but had only dated for a few weeks when he was shot.
They had been spending time at her house, where she lived with her father and stepmother, she said.
They pair were drinking wine and watching a Harry Potter movie when Lauryn said her father texted her that Hunt-Bagby needed to leave by 10:30 p.m.
She did not comply, instead she hid Hunt-Bagby under her bed and walked out the door, so her dad would think they had left.
Lauryn waited outside and watched her bedroom light go on, then off, assuming her father checked her room. She figured she’d walk back in after a couple of minutes.
Then Lauryn saw her bedroom light turn on again and heard yelling.
She ran to her room, where she said her dad was standing in front of the door with a gun pointed at Hunt-Bagby. who was standing in his boxers and a T-shirt with his hands up.
She jumped in front of the gun, telling her dad that he should be mad at her, not Hunt-Bagby.
A struggle ensued between Heller and Hunt-Bagby, and the father pulled the trigger of his semi-automatic handgun, striking Hunt once in the chest.
Charles Heller reportedly, armed himself before knocking on his daughter’s bedroom door to confront the couple. Lauryn said her father typically keeps his gun locked elsewhere in the house.
When sheriff’s deputies arrived, Lauryn Heller was on the front porch, hysterical, according to charging odcuments. “My dad shot him,” she told the deputies.
Charles Heller was inside, applying pressure to Hunt-Bagby’s wound. Hunt-Bagby was no longer breathing. Deputies attempted to revive him, but couldn’t. According to Lauryn Heller, the only thing he said before dying was, “I’ve been shot.”
A Sig Sauer semi-automatic handgun was on the kitchen table. On the floor in a bedroom was an ammunition clip with one bullet missing. The medical examiner retrieved a bullet from Hunt-Bagby’s back that matched those found in the clip.
Charles Heller wasn’t arrested that night. The investigation was held up for a year and a half as the sheriff’s office waited for evidence to be processed by the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab.
Charles Heller claimed in his police interview that he fired the gun in self-defense, believing his daughter’s guest was going to choke him, Lauryn Heller, however, argued that Hunt didn’t attack him in any way.
It’s unclear why charges were not filed until two years after the shooting, but the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office previously said that investigators were waiting to receive results from forensic tests.
Lisa Ledbetter Hunt, Hunt-Bagby’s mother, she believes the shooting of her son was ‘motivated by race’.
‘I really believe it was racially motivated. What else would it have been? It’s really the only explanation. I also believe that if [Charles Heller] was black and my son was white [Heller] would have been arrested that night and probably already convicted.’
Friends and family who felt the death of Hunt-Bagby had been swept under the rug held demonstrations outside the Snohomish County Courthouse, Going on social media, loved ones started a Facebook page called “Justice for Dustyn Coalition,” where they shared pictures of Hunt-Bagby and his music.
For now, Charles Heller remains free pending trial, but Lisa Ledbetter-Hunt said: “Me and my family have been waiting and waiting for some kind of justice and the longer we waited, a little faith and hope was lost every day. I started to lose any type of hope for justice. I felt like it was slowly being forgotten about and brushed aside. …. but this decision does make the pain a little easier to handle knowing justice will be served to the man who did this, and his life will be uncomfortable and he will not just be walking around like nothing happened…..”
Ledbetter-Hunt said she has never met Charles Heller, but said ‘I do hope one day to look him in the eyes to see how much pain he’s caused.’
Hunt-Bagby, an aspiring musician who went by the name PrettyBoi Nabii, had been dating Lauryn Heller for a few weeks prior to his death. The night he died, the couple were watching a movie together in her room and drinking wine.
Lauryn Heller has also previously suggested she believes race may have played a factor in the shooting, and why her father wasn’t charged for so long.
In a Facebook post in August 2019 linking to a video of her speaking about the incident, she wrote: ‘Please take the time to watch this and share this if you’re even remotely my friend. We need to raise awareness.
‘White privilege is real. Dustyn was the kindest soul and my father lost his own self control and KILLED him yet wasn’t even CHARGED with anything.’
Hunt-Bagby, a musician who went by the name PrettyBoi Nabii, had been dating Lauryn Heller for a few weeks prior to his death. The night he died, the couple were watching a movie together in her room and drinking wine.
The fatal exchange between Hunt and Heller occurred just before 11pm on February 25, 2019.
Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies responded to the Heller family’s home in Everett after receiving two calls from the same location at around the same time. The first call was made by Lauryn, the second was from her mother.
Earlier that day, Lauryn Heller and Hunt had sneaked into the house, prosecutors said. They didn’t interact with her parents, but both Heller and his wife told authorities they could hear their daughter talking and laughing with someone in her room.
The Heller family reportedly had a rule that Lauryn could have company over, but no one was allowed to stay overnight. The couple told detectives they didn’t like the people she brought over and considered kicking her out of the house because of it, according to the Herald Net.
Heller and his wife then reportedly left the house to go out for dinner. When they returned around 8pm, they could still hear someone in their daughter’s room.
Charles Heller told police he didn’t feel threatened that someone was with his daughter, only he wanted them out.
Some two hours later, at around 10pm, Charles Heller reportedly sent Lauryn a text, saying her guest needed to be out the home by 10:30pm.
He then grabbed a loaded handgun and placed in on the coffee table in front of him, his wife would later tell investigators.
Lauryn didn’t respond to the message, believing it wouldn’t be a big deal if Hunt stayed longer.
When nobody had left by the 10:30pm curfew, Charles Heller knocked on his daughter’s door and reminder her that her guest needed to leave.
Lauryn then attempted to trick her father by leaving the house by herself and turning off her bedroom light behind her while Hunt hid under her bed.
But her parents say that made them more concerned because they knew somebody had been with her in her room.
Less than a minute after Lauryn left the home, she saw her bedroom light switch on and heard her father yelling, according to prosecutors.
As it would turn out, Charles Heller had gone upstairs to search the room, armed with a loaded handgun.
In an interview with detectives a couple of hours later, Heller said he had asked his daughter’s guests to leave in the past but have never been armed.
He said he couldn’t explain why he had chosen to bring a gun on this occasion, only that he thought at the time it was ‘better to be safe than sorry’.
‘Something didn’t feel right about the situation,’ he told police, according to charging papers. ‘When she walked out by herself and me knowing that someone was still in there, something didn’t feel right.’
Heller reportedly searched the room twice, and on the second occasion looked under the bed to find Hunt wearing only his underwear and a t-shirt.
In the meantime, Lauryn ran back inside the home and up to her room.
Inside, she found her father pointing his gun at Hunt, who was stood on opposite sides of the room, across the bed, from Heller.
Heller reportedly yelled at Hunt to get dressed and get out – an order which the 21-year-old reportedly followed.
Charles Heller would later tell detectives that he had been concerned Hunt was armed, although he admitted he hadn’t seen any weapons.
Lauryn Heller, meanwhile said she jumped in front of her father’s gun, because ‘I thought if he saw me, maybe he’d put it down and stop.’
Lauryn said her father’s finger was on the trigger, which concerned her.
‘This point was important to Lauryn, and played a large role in her fear, because her father, formerly in the military, has training in handling firearms and had taught her that you do not put your finger on the trigger unless you are prepared to shoot,’ prosecutors wrote.
Hunt reportedly attempted to apologize to Charles Heller and said he was going to leave, while the father yelled profanities at him, prosecutors say.
When Hunt saw Heller’s gun was pointed at Lauryn, he is said to have pushed the gun to the side and away from them, causing rthe home owner to fall backwards onto the bed.
Charles Heller reported that he thought Hunt was trying to choke him when he reached for the gun.
A scuffle then ensued between Hunt, Heller and his daughter.
Charles Heller then said he stood up, aimed his gun at Hunt’s shoulder and fired once.
He would later tell investigators that he never thought about punching or striking Hunt with the gun, and said the shooting was entirely intentional.
Lauryn Heller then frantically dialed 911, telling the operator that someone had been shot and needed help ‘immediately’.
Heller’s wife also called 911, but was reportedly calm, saying: ‘Yeah, I need the police at our house, we have someone at our house we don’t want.’
When police arrived, officers reported finding Lauryn hysterically crying on the front porch, saying ‘My dad shot him’.
Charles Heller, meanwhile, was inside his daughter’s bedroom applying pressure to Hunt’s gunshot wound.
Hunt then stopped breathing. Deputies attempted the revive him but their efforts were unsuccessful.
His last words were said to be, ‘I’ve been shot’, before slipping out of consciousness.
Hunt was pronounced dead at 10:45pm, according to his mother.
‘It upsets me so much that this is my own dad. But this is what happened and this is what I saw,’ Lauryn told the Seattle Times months after the shooting.
‘I just want there to be justice in whatever way that’s served. I want his family to know peace. I want everybody to know what happened.’
In the nearly two years since Hunt’s death, friends and family of the aspiring musician have held rallies, fundraisers and organized petitions, calling for ‘Justice for Dustyn’.
After being charged Monday, Charles Heller reportedly remains free pending trial.